Thursday, February 11, 2010

A Nice Place to Stay

After two days in Lagos we moved on to Abuja, the new Capital City of Nigeria. There were elections going on in Anambra State where the Diocese of Nnewi is situated and Bishop Okeke felt it would be better for me to wait until the elections were over before coming to Nnewi. As it turned out, the election was fairly well conducted with some glitches in getting ballots to everyone, but over all fair and honest. The Governor who was elected was well accepted so no one tried to overturn the election through riots or other violent protests. Which, I guess, was a possibility and that's why were in Abuja.

When the Apostolic Nunciature heard that we were coming to stay in the city for three nights, we were invited to stay there. As you can see, it is a very nice building. And we were warmly welcomed by Msgr. Jean-Sylvain Emien, the Deputy Head of Mission for the Holy See. Like ourselves, they too are awaiting the arrival of a new Nuncio.

In the middle of the building there is a very beautiful garden and court yard.

And in the centre is this very beautiful African Madonna and Child.

And of course flowers. I think that it is always great to see flowers like this blooming in February.

There is a community of Philipino Sisters who look after the Nunciature and I enjoyed very much meeting them. I told them of the Philipino Priests and Sisters that are here in our diocese and how pleased we are with them as well.

While Abuja is a much more modern city, having been chosen as the Capital only fifeen or so years ago and being almost built new from scratch, it is still has Nigerian traffic so having the diplomatic licence on the car was a help and a security.

The Nunciature has a very beautiful Chapel and there is Mass everyday and on Sunday which is well attended by members of the various diplomatic corps who are stationed in the Capital.

And there was some dramatic African art work displayed in the Chapel, such as this carving of the Apostles fishing.

And this portrayal of Peter's Denial of Jesus after His arrest.

You can see here the various carvings around the walls of the Chapel.

The Stations of the Cross were quite unique and I liked them very much. Here Simon of Cyrene is being conscripted to carry the cross of Jesus. You can sense the powerful force being exercised by the soldier on the left while Jesus takes all of this in.

I liked this one particularly in which Jesus comforts the women of Jerusalem. Both women are mothers and their babies are being carried in a fold of their clothing on their backs. This was a sight I saw continually during my visit. There are many children in Nigeria and are in view everywhere. They are beautiful and energetic like children everywhere and like the little one on the right - taking everything in.

This Station, where Jesus is Taken Down from the Cross, portrays the tenderness and gentle care shown Jesus. The Church in Nigeria is growing quickly and the faith of the people is full of reverence and devotion while being also exuberant and joyous. As the woman cradles Jesus' head, I see that tender devotion expressed that is seen so often in the people praying at Mass and in the Churches.

And this is Msgr. Jean-Sylvain who was a very generous and gracious host to Fr. Callistus and myself during our stay with him.

During our stay in Ajuba, I was offered to celebrate Mass on Sunday at the Nunciature, but I felt that I would like to experience a parish Mass. So Msgr. Jean-Sylvain arranged that. And that will be the next topic.


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